Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom’s op-ed considers the central cvil rights issue in our time: "Here in Massachusetts, where the high school class of 2005 has begun the MCAS testing process, the gap is crystal clear. On the first try, 82 percent of white 10th-graders passed, and the figure for Asians was almost as high (77 percent). But the success rate for Hispanics was 42 percent and for blacks 47 percent. Across the nation, the glaring racial gap is between whites and Asians on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other.
This gap is an American tragedy and a national emergency for which there are no good excuses. It is the main source of ongoing racial inequality, and racial inequality is America’s great unfinished business, the wound that remains unhealed. Our failure to provide first-class education for black and Hispanic students is both an educational catastrophe and the central civil rights issue of our time."